I received an email about marketing in a downturn, from inmedia, a PR firm focused on the high tech sector. The article is about marketing tactics, but there is some good advice in here about selling tactics:
10 tips for marketing in a downturn
4. If you have channel or other partners, consider pooling budgets and activities to make your dollars go further
Can you share a trade show booth with partners? Can you initiate a co-op advertising program that sees you put up some of the cost while your channel partners put up the rest? Is the opposite available to you — are you a channel for an OEM with a co-op program?
6. Be transactional if there’s an immediate opportunity
As I’ve already noted, a downturn means different things for different companies. If there is good business that can be immediately secured, be highly transactional in going after it. Alter all your messaging to “Buy now,” and focus on tactics, like advertising and direct marketing, that communicate transactional messaging best.
7. If there isn’t an immediate opportunity, go long
It’s far more likely, however, that your customer’s buying cycle has stalled; it almost certainly has lengthened. So if your customers have hunkered down waiting for the storm to pass, there’s no point in blaring the hard sell at them or offering them discounts and other incentives to immediately do something they’re simply not going to. Does this mean you, too, should hunker down and draw the blinds until things blow over? No, it means your messaging should shift to support longer-term objectives such as awareness building, thought leadership and marketplace education. Tactics like media relations, trade shows and white papers that establish your authority and expertise are a better use of your resources if this is your reality.
8. In all communications, employ story telling that emphasizes how your product or service saves money or drives additional immediate revenue for your customers. Speak to the pain they’re feeling in a recession
Whatever the economic conditions, your marketing and communications messaging should be all about your customer, not you. You should always be speaking to the pain your customer feels that your product or service solves. In a recession, your customer’s pain is almost certainly all about revenue — making more of it or keeping more of it. Make sure you’re speaking to this.
9. Be overly attentive to your existing revenue base
“Love the one you’re with,” says the old song, and that’s never more relevant than in a downturn, when new customers are hardest to acquire. Your current customers are keeping you in business and it’s almost always cheaper to maintain and build business with existing customers than to find new ones. Lavish your existing customers with love, look for low-cost ways to improve the value you create for them, and communicate, communicate, communicate — let them know you love them.
10. Effective relationships never expire, so keep talking
Keep talking to everyone in your value chain, including suppliers, service providers, channels, influencers and, of course, customers and prospects. Even if they can’t use your services or you theirs just now, keeping those lines of communication open and full of useful information will serve you very well when the economy recovers.
Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.
He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.
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